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Transportation Topics Discussion Session Blog

We value your input!  Please continue commenting on three important topics that were brought up in our last technical session "Transportation Topics Discussion " during our Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.  The moderators were Robin Grier and Mena Lockwood of VDOT.

First Topic:  VDOT’s mode of soliciting stakeholder input on project developments is totally outdated.  They need to come into the 21 century and use modern technology. What should VDOT do to engage stakeholders on specific projects and issues OR to engage on an on-going basis?  How do we foster a two-way conversation with our customers??

  • We need more feedback from the “typical person”
    • Currently only get feedback from people who can afford to volunteer their time and effort to the process
    • Encourages participation only by “special interests” and lobbies and discourages involvement of the typical person
  • Possible ways to get opinions of the “typical person”
    • Paid focus groups (something you commonly see in other industries)
    • Leverage social media, similar to 511 and Mega Projects
    • More user friendly content
      • SYIP is cumbersome and unclear – requires too much effort for typical person
    • Ask more directed questions
    • Hold legislature/government officials accountable to attend these meetings
    • VDOT should attend more county board / planning meetings
      • Removal of Resident Engineer from these meetings has left maintenance jurisdictions isolated from VDOT
    • Build back trust
      • People have seen highway trust funds “robbed”
      • Too many promises are made that are not delivered

 

Second Topic:  How can ITE attract more student involvement?

  • Need to broaden our appeal
    • “Catch all” organizations like ASCE dominate
    • if the student’s area of interest changes, they don’t have to change involvement
      • Advertize to or create similar over-arching organizations within universities
      • Virginia Tech has such an organization
        • Timing of meeting is awkward
          • Summer is a bad time to attract student participation
          • Bring back a “Fall” meeting
  • Provide more incentives
    • Scholarships
    • Competitions (e.g. concrete canoe or papers)
    • Employer involvement
    • Free food!
  • Engage Professors
    • Best programs all have active participation of faculty who work directly with students

 

Third Topic:  Autonomous Vehicles

  • USDOT is putting money into research but nothing in near future (5 year plan)
  • VDOT needs to work with FHWA to identify how we should begin to plan for these vehicles
    • VDOT participation through Ken King
    • Partner with DMV
    • Pay attention to industry (auto, google, etc.)
  • Consider “automated” vehicles as a new “mode” in multi-modal plans
    • Allows use of existing planning documents/processes
  • Pilotless vehicles may not be as impactful as everyone thinks
    • Take air industry as example, which has been pursuing this tech for a long time and still have pilots
    • People still was their own car – trip demands and communal fleets may not be as likely in US.

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